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On the Cover

May-June 2017
Volume 105, Number 3

Biologists and philosophers of science have long wondered whether evolution’s winding paths that led to today’s living world are predictable and repeatable, or unpredictable because of chance events. In this illustration, two evolutionary paths start out in parallel, and then begin to wend and bifurcate in sometimes similar and other times unique ways. Although evolutionary biologists cannot go back in time to rerun evolution from the beginning....


FEATURE ARTICLES

Anyone Can Become a Troll

Justin Cheng, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Jure Leskovec, Michael Bernstein

Analysis and simulation of online discussion sections show circumstances that can cause civil commentators to engage in aggressive behavior.


Replaying Evolution *

Zachary D. Blount

Is the living world more a result of happenstance or repeatable processes?


Circular Visualizations

Manuel Lima

A radial layout continues to dominate visual expressions of information and data.


The Dark Side of the Universe *

Pauline Gagnon

The existence of dark matter and dark energy has gained acceptance through a variety of complementary cosmological research methods.


* access restricted to members and subscribers


SCIENTISTS’ NIGHTSTAND

Over the Edge

Brian Hayes

In Deepwater Horizon, engineers Earl Boebert and James M. Blossom reexamine one of the most horrifying technological disasters of recent memory: the blowout of an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that destroyed a drilling rig, killed 11 crew members, and led to the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history.

See all book reviews for this issue


DEPARTMENTS

FROM THE EDITORS

Understanding the Butterfly Effect

Jamie L. Vernon

TECHNOLOGUE

Smart and Squishy Robots

Building robots that are entirely soft requires the development of new components from valves to circuits, as well as ways to control deformable arms.

Yigit Mengüç

ENGINEERING

Slide Rules: Gone But Not Forgotten*

Many of these well-made mechanical calculating aids have outlasted the engineers who knew how to use them, but they remain culturally pervasive.

Henry Petroski

INFOGRAPHIC

The Chemistry of Ironing


LETTER TO THE EDITORS

Biodiversity Values


Bottle and Can Openers


Optics of Faked Photos

SPOTLIGHT

Restructuring Science in Russia

The Russian government is counting on young scientists to stimulate the economy through applied research.

Jamie L. Vernon

First Person: Yuri Kovalev

Q&A with the project scientist of the RadioAstron space interferometer.

Brian Malow

Briefings


SIGHTINGS

Curbing Immune Cells’ Appetite

Infected cells produce an “eat me” signal so that they’re destroyed by the immune system. But what if you want an infection to last?

Robert Frederick


SIGMA XI TODAY (PDF)


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